Personal Response on Langston Hughes’s Poems

After reading a list of Langston Hughes’ poems, I found that his poems are genuinely impactful in spreading the impact of social and racial injustice in America, going against African Americans’ beauty and racial stereotypes and taking pride in his skin colour. Although I could not imagine how Hughes and African Americans had to go through, I can relate to Hughes as a person of colour living in a white society. Among his work, one poem that stood out to me is ‘Goodbye Christ.’ I will analyze how ‘Goodbye Christ’ differs from Hughes’ other poems in this response. 

The content in ‘Goodbye Christ’ is exceptionally different from Hughes’s other poems. Hughes usually describes his views and values through a story or a character, for example, ‘Ruby Brown.’ In ‘Ruby Brown,’ he talks about the injustice and racial problem through the pretty ruby brown girl in her town of not choosing to be either a maid or a prostitute due to her skin colour. “What can a coloured girl do On the money from a white woman’s kitchen? And ain’t there any joy in this town?” On the other hand, in ‘Goodbye Christ,’ he directly states his political standpoint and religion. “Make way for a new guy with no religion at all – A real guy named Marx Communist Lenin Peasant Stalin Worker Me – I said, ME!” From this line, Huges states that he is an atheist and even compares himself with different people like Stalin and Karl Marx; we can know his political standpoint- a communist. 

Other poems he wrote generally express the hope and optimism of the writer. For example, ‘I, Too, Sing America.’, “Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table when company comes.” When readers read “Tomorrow,” they can comprehend that he does not mean tomorrow, but sometimes in the future. This represents that Hughes hopes he will sit at the same table as white people one day. It symbolizes Hughes’s optimism and means that he believes African Americans will finally be seen as the white man’s equal one day. While in ‘Goodbye Christ,’ we can detect that Hughes is no longer carrying optimism; instead, it shows his bitterness and tiredness towards the injustice in the world. “Go ahead on now, you’re getting in the way of things. Lord.” This line illustrates that Hughes himself thinks the lord has no use in this world and has given up on him and the world. From this, we can catch a glimpse of the anger and disappointment of Hughes on the injustice in the world. Therefore, the tone in ‘Goodbye Christ’ is approvingly different from his other poems that usually carry a positive and optimistic side. At the same time, in ‘Goodbye Christ,’ he only shows his resentment and anger. 

To conclude everything discussed above, ‘Goodbye Christ’ has a more significant impact on me than his other work because of the frustration and anger emotions that he displays in the poem, and it lets readers have a glimpse of his personal viewpoint. Besides that, I have enjoyed reading Hughes’ poems because it has given me a greater awareness of racial injustice and the importance of being proud of your skin colour. 

Langston Hughes PR

Langston Hughes’s collection of poems are very powerful and moving poems that combat and go against the racial stereotypes Hughes battled in his time. He consistently has a sense of African American pride in his poems, where he celebrates black culture, triumphs and history. In doing this he pushes his fellow African Americans to be honoured of their race and culture. Hughes also speaks about the dreams and aspirations that African Americans should have and for them to not be discouraged by the racial stereotypes set upon them, rather disprove and overcome them. In most of his poems it is the themes that he uses that really allow him to do this.

The themes that Hughes uses vary throughout this poem, but I found the most important ones were black pride, racial discrimination and injustice, cultural history and the dreams of African Americans. The reason these themes are so moving for the most part, was because there was a stigma surrounding those topics, especially for black-white conversation, this was unheard of. The stereotype for African Americans of this time was that they only knew the emotion of happiness because if they were to complain to white people it would make them seem ungrateful and upset the white people, which could lead to a bad consequence. For Hughes to speak about these stigmatized things was very courageous, and the content of the poems elaborated on these themes in very moving ways because he would use the poems to share the universal struggle of black people during this time.

Hughes’s poems successfully give the reader a sense of responsibility to try and make a change against racial injustice and discrimination. By using the stigmatized themes, it makes the poems seem more powerful because it was not common for African Americans to see someone take a lead like this and basically make a stand without the use of violence which gives a powerful message. To conclude Langston Hughes’s poems helped to begin to break the stigmatism around the universal struggles of African Americans and pave a path for other youth to start and make a change to a more inclusive future.

Reflection on the Poetry of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes, born at the turn of the 20th century, was an extremely influential poet and social activist for the duration of his career. Through his various works, he made an incredible effort to bring awareness to, and fight back against, the discrimination faced by African Americans (as well as other unfortunate citizens looked down upon by contemporary American society). These themes are the most easily noticeable recurrence throughout his various poems, but the ideas and styles they present are absolutely worth deeper examination.

Hughes’ poetry is extremely varied all across the board. Despite the similar themes and subject matter, of the ones I’ve read, no two poems sound exactly the same. They might have a different tone, or a different rhythm, or sometimes no rhythm at all. Surprisingly, although I personally prefer some of these styles over others, Hughes managed to write all of them with a considerable amount of talent, and no lack of emotional weight. Above all else, each of these poems is intended to speak to people, but in different ways. Some are intended for those at the top of the American social hierarchy, to make them understand the plight faced by all the people below them. Others are intended directly for those on the bottom, less intended to create sympathy than to inspire.

Something I personally found interesting (and appreciate) about these poems is that, regardless of how somber the tone may be, it’s rare that they lose their optimism completely. Life is Fine, which shows it’s narrator on the verge of suicide, implies that he found reason to keep living, ending with the phrase, “Life is fine!” For another example, Let America Be America Again goes into great detail explaining the wrongs committed throughout America’s history, simply stating that the reality of the nation doesn’t live up to it’s promise. However, it ends with the hopeful declaration that fulfilling that promise still isn’t out of reach.

In the end, I really appreciate the worldview and ideas Langston Hughes’ poetry presents, as well as the styles used to express those ideas. Any reader can tell that there’s a lot of emotion and talent behind these words, and considering the subject matter and time in which they were written, that means a huge amount.

Selected Poems by Langston Hughes

After reading the Selected Poems by Langston Hughes, the author made me look at how he is teaching about the racial segregation of black people that was happening in his time in America by raising his voice through poetry. It is important to know historical background as their meanings are specific and it has identification with history and the struggle of discrimination in those days. His poems are free verse that uses an informal speech that Langston Hughes combined, the language of jazz and the language that black people used at that time to clearly convey a message that evokes a feeling. He creates the feeling of empathy by using certain words that describe things that everyone has had like a mother, difficult times, a dream, the excitement of been a child in a candy store, etc. He also uses the word “I” and gives a different meaning to oneself like Whitman. Langston Hughes uses the word “I” to refer to the whole black community including himself.

I identified three main points that Langston Hughes uses, dreams, hope, and being fed up, not only to make clearer their suffering, but also to tell us about freedom. First, with dreams, dreams that are difficult to fulfill because of racism been an obstacle and dreams been deferred. He communicates the stereotypes of black people from the side of white people and compares it with how the life of black people really was, the injustice and their life being hard because they can’t get what they want, making them forget their dreams. Second, hope, giving positive messages to unite black people and to appreciate black people. Telling them that their dreams can come true, they need to stay together, hold on as there is always something good and it can be possible despite the suffering. However, as the poems explain their suffering, dreams and give people hope, there is a point where Langston Hughes shows his feeling of being fed up. Not only communicating to stay together, but also to speak up and end the suffering because what was happening was wrong. He shows how people were tired, sad and hopeless. To stop letting white people to oppress them and to really show what was happening. The three main points shows that the suffering passes through generations and he makes clear the word “freedom”. When he refers to the word freedom, he is not referring only to give freedom to black people but also, he expresses that freedom is for everybody, expanding to more societies and how it is what it will save us all.

PR: Langston Hughes Selected Poetry

After reading the selected poetry of Langston Hughes throughout the past month, I have gained new knowledge and insight to topics I was already familiar with, but not that knowledgeable about. I learned not only about the common topics throughout Hughes poetry (mainly inequality, racism and hardship) but also about how the form and structure of poetry can change how the poem feels to the reader.

In poems like I, Too and Negro the idea of inequality due to racism is very prevalent. Hughes’ invokes strong feelings and thoughts among the reader through his use of careful wording that gets a powerful message across. An example of this in Negro is,

I’ve been a victim:
The Belgians cut off my hands in the Congo. They lynch me still in Mississippi.

The sensitive and uncomfortable topics Hughes raises creates emotion in the reader. Ideas of being a victim to cut off hands and lynching are very unpleasant and help get Hughes’ message across.

In poems like Let America Be America Again, Hughes not only talks about the injustice of racism, but also about inequality of all races, classes and anyone who has or does experience discrimination. He mentions the hardships of slaves, indigenous peoples and the poor lower class. As this poem shows, Hughes wrote for everyone  being discriminated against and all types of injustice.

One of the last big things I learned through Hughes’ poetry is how the form and organization of a poem can change how it effects the reader. Namely, in the poem Harlem Sweeties, Hughes uses a trimeter which gives the poem a more lighthearted and upbeat feeling to the poem. If not for this, the poem may actually come across as creepy instead of light, sweet and happy. Because the poem is describing how Hughes’ feels about some women, if it was a tetrameter, for example, it would make the poem more serious. This would cause lines like,

Brown sugar lassie,

Caramel treat,

Honey-gold baby

Sweet enough to eat.

Would just sound creepy.

By reading poetry from Langston Hughes, I have learned a bit about all of the techniques he uses in his poetry and a lot about what culture in America was like  in Hughes’ time. I enjoyed reading Hughes’ poetry because of his thought and attention to detail in his poetry. It is clear that his message is sincere and not about the fame or money, and that makes the poetry a lot more remarkable and thoughtful. Most of his poetry has a lot of meaning in it and can be difficult to fully understand, but nevertheless his poetry is memorable and meaningful.

Personal Response to Langston Hughes

Throughout this unit, reading the selected poems written by Langston Hughes, I have grown to enjoy reading poetry and searching for patterns and messages embedded within the poems. Hughes takes a topic and writes it in a way that creates a deeper effect and meaning in the message he is trying to convey. Using metaphors, rhymes, and different poetic structures he accentuates the meaning of his poems clearly. 

Hughes raises awareness on many issues regarding racism, oppression and the everyday struggles that African American people have to endure. I was aware of the inequalities and oppression of African American people but Hughes’ poems opened up a whole new understanding for me. Through the perspectives of African American people themselves, the poems show emotion and sometimes even pain. It depicts images of unfairness and lack of respect towards African American people. The effect of this pain and image of inequality causes me to feel for them and it also broadens my knowledge and understanding of the topic Hughes is writing about. For example in The Negro Mother, Hughes describes a mother talking about her own personal experiences being a slave. When the mother says “I am the one labored as a slave, Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave– children sold away from me, husband sold, too.” I felt sadness and sorrow towards her and couldn’t imagine going through what had happened to her. I also was not aware of how much slaves had to go through and survive, it was heartbreaking to read and even more heartbreaking to imagine a mother opening up and talking about it.

I enjoyed the rhyme schemes Hughes included in some of his poems. The effect of the rhymes was that it was so smooth and satisfying to read. The rhymes created momentum in the poetry and reading it was enjoyable. Another thing I particularly liked while reading the selected poems was that there was a distinguishable optimistic or pessimistic ending. I personally liked the ones with the optimistic endings and thought it was more eye opening when the ending left you open minded. For example an optimistic ending would be like from the poem Montage of a Dream Deferred, “I’d like to take up Bach. Montage of a dream deferred. Buddy, have you heard?” It showed a hopeful and positive ending which leads me to imagine a happy ending. 


PR to Langston Hughes

The poetry of Langston Hughes has lots of meaning and makes me feel empathy. Starting with meaning, I found that his poetry had a great impact on enlightening me about racism and inequality. For example in, The Negro mother, He tells the tragic story of a black mother. The poem gave me an account of how black people were treated and showed how horrible it was. On line 7 of The Negro Mother, there is one sentance which really showed me what people did to african american people. “I am the child they stole from the sand.” This put the imagery of an innocent child being taken away from their familly and then being forced to work as a slave. This is just one example of how his poems enlightened me about what African American people went through.

Langston Hughes also creates lots of empathy in his poems which helps to show you how it was for African American people. I found this especially in “Ruby Brown,” which is about an African American girl who is treated very unfairly. She is underpaid, a prostitute, no one talks to her. The whole poem just makes me feel for her and how unfair she is treated. 


Langstons Poetry is very smart in my opinion. He is someone who wanted to tell a message about how African American people are treated unfairly and show the horror of what they go through. In order to effectively send his message out to the world to inspire people to change, he did so in the form of poetry. Poetry in my opinion is quite fun to read and still able to capture the emotion of the message. By writing his message through poetry he was able to enlighten many including me about the challenges African American people faced.

Langston Hughes has very meaningful poems which have shown me how it was for African American people and how they faced racism. The poems sound nice to read but still have deep meaning. The amount I have learned about racism while enjoying the poems themself, makes me adore Langston Hughes’ work.


Selected Poems of Langston Hughes Personal Response

Through out the collection the poems share a common focus/theme.  The focus on “Negroes” and their lives in Mr. Hughes time.  Most of the poems seem to be a more free form, with emphasis on the constant oppression faced by the Negroes and the dreams born of that.

The poems had a effect that made me thoughtful, an almost peaceful sort of reflection and pondering.  Most of it went nowhere though.  Though the reading did give me some more basic insight and knowledge on the matters addressed.

Through all of this one question remains un answered though.  Why were/are those of darker skin considered inferior, and why have most slaves throughout the ages been those of darker colour?  There is almost no account in history of those of dark skin being in power while those of lighter skin are worked as servants or slaves.  This question could also be easily reversed to; why are those of Proto-Indo-European decent in power, and why have they for the duration of known recorded history and possibly beyond?

Langston Hughes’ Poetry Reflection

After finishing the selected Langston Hughes’s poems in our class my perspective of the Harlem Renaissance has broadened greatly. The Harlem Renaissance is a topic that I knew about from previous schooling, however, my knowledge of it was relatively shallow. I know of many arts produced at that time but none have helped me understand it as much as Hughes’s poetry. Hughes wrote poetry about the real world in each of the poems even if it was disguised as a hypothetical situation. His poetry was written to everyone with poems like The Negro Speaks of Rivers, and Negro written to the African American population. Poems like Memo to Non-White Peoples, and Deferred written to the privileged White population. And, poems like Let America be America Again,  and Life is Fine to everyone in between.

Furthermore, to understand many of Hughes’s poems you need a lot of background information. So, when reading the poems I would often have to research many concepts in the poem. This only further broadened my knowledge about the era, and helped me understand some of the other arts I knew from the time a lot better. With his long timeline of writing poems we also get to see how the ideas of the Harlem Renaissance changed over time.

Similarly, we can see Hughes’s ideas changing as he broadened the topics he would write about in his later years. His early poems being specifically about the African American population’s problems, while his later poems included more minorities and under privileged populations. We also see the influence of other writers build on him. The most significant influence being Walt Whitman. We see Whitman’s influence in poems like Harlem [1] where his tone is matched to what would be expected from Whitman. In his later poems such as Goodbye Christ, or Paper for English B where he writes from his perspective which he never used to.

The poems we read even helped me understand some modern media better. For example, from reading the poems I can understand more modern music made by artists such as the Wutang Clang, N.W.A, or 2pac better. These artist’s music is similar to many of Hughes’s poems because even though the message is not always clear in the different mediums they both relate to problems in the world. These different artists all have something in common in their art, which is the message they intend to deliver. However, before reading the poems off Hughes I did not always understand that. In short the poems of Hughes have not only helped my understand what things were like back in his days, but also to understand more modern media, as some people may have viewed the work of Hughes to be ahead of his time. This concept of timelessness in Hughes’s poems is what makes his poems still a topic of discussion in the modern era. His poems inspire people of all colours every day and will continue to do so long into the future.

Langston Hughes Personal Response

Langston Hughes’ poems are surely diverse in many ways. His works do not focus only on the big picture of black’s people hardship of life, but other topics such as the uniqueness of black culture, the figure of the mother and the commonality of life struggles that everyone experiences. These topics are most prevalent in poems like The Negro-Mother, Harlem-Sweeties, Deferred. First, The Negro-Mother, while the title suggests the hardship that the typical black mother has to endure, this can be applied in a more universal sense of figure of “the mother”. For example, “I am the woman who worked in the field…I am the one who labored as slave…I couldn’t read then. I couldn’t write” While mothers these days do not have to work in the field or suffer from racism or discirmination, it still goes quite far to say that being a parent figure is hard. As a mother, it is part of their responsibility to take care of children, work to take care of them, teaching them the important lessons in life, etc. It is never an easy job, which is why it can be so relatable to any mother in this world. “But I had to keep on till my work was done:” This is another emphasis on the heavy responsibility that every mother has to carry because no mother would want to abandon their children, so they always must keep going. Next is Harlem Sweeties. For instance, “Caramel treat, Honey-gold baby Sweet enough to eat.” In this line, the black women are being compared as food, sweet and delicious, which has a seductive notion to them. “Rich cream-colored to plum tinted black, Feminine sweetness in Harlem’s no lack” Hughes seems to be honoring the color of black women, that they are beautiful and unique, which goes back to showing how different women’s beauty is seen in the black community. Last but not least, Deferred voices the very humane desire of black individuals that are not so different from others. For example, “Maybe now I can have that white enamel stove I dreamed about when we first fell in love eighteen years ago.” This is the desire of a black married woman who wants a better stove in her house because back then, having to cook on a wood stove was very hard. This can be applied to anyone since maybe once in a lifetime, we all have wished for something better not because we don’t appreciate what we already have, but because we believe that new experiences can enrich ourselves. Also, “All I want is one more bottle of gin.” Once more, alcoholism is not rare anymore in any culture, as humans, we all want to escape the suffering of life through an escape and alcohol is one of them. “All I want is a wife who will work with me and not against me.” Love can be hard for everyone: finding a partner that shares the same core value as us is hard but to trust them and find the one who will stick with us until the end is probably even harder, which again, is not uncommon in any culture. All in all, Hughes’ work is excellent in its own right with many subjects worth thinking and questioning, as well as accurately reflecting black people’s life back then. 

Langston Hughes PR

The poet Langston Hughes (1901-1967) was very recognized for his writing and his way of viewing the world and his interpretations. Hughes was inspired by music, mainly in blues. Langston Hughes was also known for how he would add emotions into his texts trying to make readers understand those same feelings that he felt about America, white people, rich people, amongst others.

During the 1900’s Hughes spoke about injustice and prejudice against people of color. The poem Ruby Brown is a painful story that shows how the character Ruby has no “fuel” to keep the spark of joy burning. Hughes’ poetry is so effective and adds into him projecting his emotions into the readers.

Hughes’ writing was very noticeable in life in Harlem Sweeties, since it makes the reader get all the emotions he wanted to project. During the 1950’s, the poem Harlem Sweeties influenced people all over the country into changing the ways they think and see the world. Langston Hughes had a great influence over his readers.

The poetry of Langston Hughes, which are largely about prejudice, are mixed with optimism, demonstrating that these individuals do have aspirations to pursue and activities they enjoy. The stanzas become one line each at the end of one poem in particular, “deferred” from “Montage of a Dream Deferred,” and each stanza is a sentence expressing what someone wants. This is an excellent addition to the poem because it demonstrates the diversity of African Americans. They all have different desires and requirements. Langston Hughes is a great believer in what he writes, this also provides evidence in him showing feelings in his writings and this is due to his investment in his texts. His poems are always about the main character enduring racism caused by society.

Langston Hughes Personal Response Sergio Camarillo

Langston Hughes wrote many powerful poems that really made me get somewhat of a perspective on how the black community suffered. I always thought I could grasp the idea of their pain but up until I read and analyzed these poems I practically had no idea. The way of his words and how he talks about the hate black people received resonated in me. Yet he also talks about the pride the community has and it also gave me a new perspective over it. For example the poem “I, Too” shows this pride and perseverance. The poem is just one of many in the list that show you cant really break a person’s spirit, and that although sometimes it hurt the white people could never keep them down. Its also one of the reasons the poems shocked me. He really talks about many aspects and makes a big impact in each one of them.


One poem that was interesting to read was “Goodbye Christ”. It was really interesting because it doesn’t really talk about black people, but a problem all people basically have (Althoughsome might not see it that way.) He talks about how God’s time is over and the world doesn’t need him now. I feel he speaks some truth in the way he talks about how God has been pawned and wore out. Its true as well in the present as the church has truly sold God for money more than for the belief.


Another poem that was interesting was “The Negro Mother”. It gave the message that the black community had the immortal connection and bond. How as a community they truly were connected and the poem shows the level of care and importance it has. It also shows the struggles of the black community and it was one of the poems that had the most impact In me. The way he uses words in this poem simply have more meaning because of the way he talks about events while also displaying the importance and pride black people have even though they were humiliated and treated horribly.


Langston Hughes really was a great writer and like I said before all of the poems really had an impact in me and I feel like I learned a lot from reading his poems.

Review on collection of Langston Hughes poems

In my opinion, Langston Hughes’s collection of poems is very inspiring and creatively showcases the life of people of colour and what they went through. Hughes emphasizes the struggles coloured people went through and the work they had to do to survive as coloured people. For example, in his poem “Ruby Brown”, he shows the miserable life of a beautiful young woman who’s dreams and goals were crushed and taken because she was coloured. As a coloured person with limited work opportunity, she had to make a living through a job that was frowned upon, causing her to throw away her self respect. Through this poem and many more in his collection, Hughes  shows how coloured people were downgraded because of the colour of their skin, how they  lived their lives with no freedom or justice, giving away their self-worth to earn a living. He emphasized the lives of women, mothers, children, and men who worked so hard for their generations to come. Hughes writes his poetry from different perspectives and this helped me as a reader understand the situation people of colour faced and the struggles they encountered. The imagery and descriptions used also had a tremendous effect on the poems and made them unique and very expressive. The different perspectives he used helped me as a reader understand the situation being described.

Reading Hughes’ collection really opened my eyes to the deeper struggles black people faced living in a world that excluded them from society, a world that treated them as if they were not human. I realized that these people felt like their lives were based on simple dreams that were unreal. The poem “Montage of a Dream Deferred” really opened up my eyes to the different dreams, goals, and wants that all these different black Americans desire. The fact that people assumed that they only wanted money and didn’t have dreams just showed how people judged and looked down upon black people. 

Not only did Hughes emphasize this, but he also had a very strong sense of racial pride which is demonstrated in his poems. Racial pride in Hughes’s poetry and jazz music are inextricably linked. In fact, he invented the phrase “jazz poetry” to describe a type of poetry in which the poem’s rhythm mimics the sounds of jazz music when spoken aloud. Racial pride was shown through being hopeful and expressing the black American culture. 

Overall his poems appealed to me because they supported equality, opposed racism and injustice, and celebrated African American culture, comedy, and spirituality, among many other aspects. He also talks about experiences being black and living in America, as well as universal themes of identity and belonging in the modern world. I think that all of his poems can appeal to anyone of any race, showing that no matter what, whether you are black, purple, or yellow, it should not impact how you live your life because, in the end, we are all humans. 


Langston Hughes personal response

Langston Hughes was a star poet as well as an activist during the 19th century. His poems were inspired by Walt Whitman and were free verse which was unusual for the times. Langston Hughes was also known as being inspired by the blues and wrote on behalf of the African American community in the USA. His writing took on a more ecologically valid point of view later on as he started vouching for all repressed people.

Harlem Sweeties is an example of Hughes’s writing, which comes to life and moves people to think a certain way. The poem Harlem Sweeties caused people around the world but mainly in America to adapt their beauty standard and instead find beauty in women of color as well as in white women during the mid-19th century. “Pale, almost translucent skin, rosy cheeks, crimson lips, white teeth, and sparkling eyes.” As said by Jessica Cale when describing the beauty standard of the 19th century. Harlem Sweeties triggers people’s beauty standards to change and accept a broader beauty. Harlem Sweeties makes use of imagery in the sense that it describes people as candy and dessert, “Brown sugar lassie, Caramel treat, Honey-gold baby”. (Line 5-7). The sweetness of these types of foods figures as the beauty of the woman that Hughes sees in Harlem.

Goodbye Christ is one of Hughes’s more popular poems which brings out his personal opinions never seen. The mood of Goodbye Christ is angry and sad, it is like he is losing hope in the future of the world and becoming depressed. “Marx Communist Lenin Peasant Stalin Worker ME–”. (Line 24). His view in politics is announced. During this time many intellectuals saw hope in Communism and the public did not know of the many millions that had died at Stalin’s hands. To them, Communism was an ideal society in which property is publicly owned and everyone works and is paid due to their ability and needs. Today we see that the ideal world of Communism is nearly impossible, and that is why people no longer strive for it in the United States of America.

I enjoyed reading Langston Hughes’s poems because of his use of imagery and the lack of structure. The lack of structure made the poems more entertaining to read and kept me interested. Langston Hughes wrote in order to promote equality and fight against repression. This made me more interested in his writing, and is another reason why these poems became so famous.





Works cited

Drop dead gorgeous: 19th century beauty tips for the aspiring consumptive. Dirty, Sexy History. (2018, December 5). Retrieved January 31, 2022, from

Selected Poems by Langston Hughes:IB English A Literature Mr. Macknight.

Langston Hughes Poems Personal Response

This collection of Langston Hughes poems, although I cannot empathize with the people being described, still convey a whole world of meaning. From metaphors to comparisons, the poems are meaningful to me.

Langston Hughes writes about oppression and racism against African American people in the twentieth century. Even though I cannot empathize with these people I still know how horrible racism is and feel terrible for them. One poem in particular “ruby brown” has a heartbreaking metaphor which explains how the character in the poem “Ruby Brown” has no fuel to power the flame of joy in her heart. Literary devices like these are what help made Langston Hughes’ poems so powerful to me when I read them.

Langston Hughes is passionate about what he writes about. His poems are always about the dreams, racial injustice, and most importantly black pride. Many, if not all, African American people have dreams, and social injustice is not letting them achieve these dreams. One of the poems is even an excerpt from a book of poems called “montage of a dream deferred”. This means a dream which is being/has been postponed. When reading the poems I noticed these factors and I felt terrible for these people. They helped me really realize how horrible racism was. I had never really had it described in this way before.

One thing that I do not like about this collection of poetry, or Langston Hughes’ poetry in general is that it is written in free verse. There is no specific rhyme scheme so the poems just sound like him talking and describing things. I wish he would have written with a few more rhymes to make the poem have more of a melody. This would have given me more enjoyment when reading more of the poems.

One more thing that I like about this group of poems is that it is written from different perspectives. I did not know some of the situations that black Americans have been in and these poems helped paint the pictures in my head. Some are written from the perspective and lives of mothers and women. Some are written from the perspective of a man. These poems helped me understand both points of view.

Langston Hughes’ poems, which are are mostly about discrimination, are intertwined with optimism which shows that these people do indeed have dreams to chase and things they enjoy. This gives the poems a happier feel so I was in a better mood while reading them. At the end of one poem in particular, “deferred” from “Montage of a Dream Deferred”, the stanzas become one line each and each stanza is a sentence saying what someone wants. This is a smart addition to the poem as it shows the diversity of of African American people. They all have different wants and needs. One of them even says “I’d like to take up Bach” which was not exactly the norm for African Americans at the time. I knew that African Americans during slave times had these wants and dreams but I had never really thought hard about how they were being deferred until I read this poem, and other poems in the collection.

I usually do not like reading poetry but Langston Hughes shows a lot of passion in his writing, and included details that make the poems more worthwhile and interesting to me.

Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Langston Hughes,

Towards the end of May in 2020, a police officer’s video of an African-American being choked to death in May prompted riots to flare up across America. When demonstrations started in the US after George Floyd’s death, the Black Lives Matter movement gripped the world.

Many differences exist between the topic of your poem As I Grew Older and the Declaration of Independence. The injustice against colored people born in America today remains one of the most important aspects. The Declaration of Independence guarantees such unalienable and God-given rights of all Americans. Your poem, on the other hand, expresses the exact opposite. It contains reality. You can clearly read between the lines in the second and third stanzas that all of these personal rights, such as “life,” “liberty,” and “pursuit of happiness,” are not true for all people living in America, the so-called “land of limitless possibilities.” The Declaration of Independence also states that not all Americans follow the constitution. It is as if you were subjected to true discrimination and racism. Many of your hopes and aspirations were overshadowed by these issues, and you were unable to really experience the American Dream. Martin Luther King mirrored this central theme used in the Declaration of Independence. In the final stanza, there is a historical reference to Martin Luther King.

“My hands!

My dark hands

Break through the wall!” (6.24-26)

I see that you are attempting to break free from this system, that you are trying to solve all of your problems, as well as the nation’s problems, in the same way that Martin Luther King tried to do. As a result, the promised rights of liberty and life do not apply to all Americans. Similarly, the “desire” is unfulfilled. This right is guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence, but how can anyone live a happier life if they are discriminated against by citizens of their own country? The “can-do” spirit disappears as well; one of the most critical aspects of the American Dream is possessing a pioneering spirit, a deep desire to achieve all of one’s goals. Unfortunately, much as you had to suffer, this “can-do” mentality disappears as someone is unable to live up to his own nature.

“I lie down in the shadow.

No longer the light of my dream before me,

Above me.

Only the thick wall.” (4.19-22)

These are the reasons I can see why you denounce the United States of America and therefore the American Dream so strongly in your poems. You want to be “free at last,” as anyone should, and as Martin Luther King put it in his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Owing to the killing of Breonna Taylor, a medical worker, rage and indignation were already brewing. On March 13, Taylor was murdered in a police raid that got out of control. Police said they had a warrant to search Taylor’s apartment for two suspects who were going to sell cocaine from her apartment to prosecute. Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, fired a cop in the leg after the police broke the door off his hinges. The police replied by firing five times at Taylor. Detective Brett Hankison, one of the cops who has been shot since then, is alleged to have blindly fired ten bullets into the apartment.

The campaign saw an uptick in interest in 2020 with the revival of Black Lives Matter in global headlines in the midst of global protests.

The world is revolving for the better. I am thankful to have had your poetry to further understand how it is and how is shouldn’t be.

Thank you,

Megan Siu

Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Langston Hughes,

In our English class, we had to read a few of your poems. I realized that most of your poems use jazz and black folk rhythms. I also see you discussing topics such as the hardships of the black working-class lives and how the blacks are being mistreated, which I admire. your writing style allows me to understand how much hard work it took for the blacks to be whom they are today, while also learning about the history of the blacks.

One of your poems that I enjoyed analyzing is “Negro”. After reading this poem I was able to learn a lot about the history of the blacks while relating this poem to what problems the blacks still encounter in our society today. Throughout the poem, you used the words “slave”, “worker”, “singer” and “victims” to show what a negro does in the past. You also used “I brushed the boots of Washington” (6) to show the history of the blacks since after reading this line, I was able to identify that you were referring to the enslavement period. In the poem, you also used lines such as “They still lynch me in Mississippi” (16) to show what problems the blacks still encounter today, since you wanted us to understand the oppression of the past which is still happening today.

Another poem that I enjoyed analyzing of yours is “Dream Boogie”. In this poem, you wanted to show how the blacks were not being understood and that the white people should listen in which I have found interesting. However, how you have shown it was more compelling, you made us listeners assume that it is a happy beat “Listen closely: You’ll hear their feet Beating out and beating out a -” (4-7), while subtly trying to get us to understand “Listen to it closely: Ain’t you heard something underneath like a -” (10-13), but you decided to give up since us listeners don’t understand “What did I say?” (16).

After reading your poems, I hope that the messages of your poems would get spread out more broadly since numerous people around the world don’t understand how big the issue is in the messages of the poems you are conveying. Lastly, I would like to thank you for all your hard work and also for giving me the opportunity to read and analyze your poems.



Dear Mr. Hughes,

I request of you an opinion on a matter dear to me, of which I find no resounding, nor over-arching, resolution. As one, whom one may say, is naturally inclined to tinker with the weight of words, persuing the most arbitrary word compilations, perusing meaning where there might be none. In actuality, countless if meaning was in fact intended by an author, what if meaning has no truth? no firm basis in resonance? Mr. Hughes, I shall allow you to interpret as you will what meaning there is in preceding sentences.

Now I am not here to bore you with fickle matters of no value, at least I hope, and hope you find too. You have received many letters, from my mutual classmates/peers. I hold no doubt certain among such have irked your interest, or instead your irritation. Perhaps some have conveyed a formal and literal message, while others a powerful, or emotional, and figurative message. I yet hold no doubt that said letters have swayed you alternately from I (for I have too read them). Furthermore, I hold no doubt how you have interpreted the qualities of said letters has congrued with your meaning of value in literature, if certain assertions within literature are more worthy in value than others, and if the form shows merit in conjunction. Although, I understand your analysis of literature is much developed and refined over years, full of sway and rhythm, power and sensation. And I know the style forming your literature is unique, fresh, inventive, it follows the identities you have developed in the literary world.

So I ask you to ponder: what makes “good” literature? What do you look for/what does it need? Are the requirements for literature different from piece-to-piece I wonder? If so, I wonder if the meaning behind literature is much larger than imaginable, if it really is the realm of possibility? Yet the confusion is pertinent, for I understand that lots of the power in your prose is based on your dream of better life of minority classes. Therefore, is literature a figment of the real world, forever tied to our experiences? Mr. Hughes, I would love to know what motivates you as a person to write literature, and to know what you seek as you write literature.



Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Langston Hughes,

I have read few of your poems, and while reading some of your works, I learned about your writing style and how you structured your poems.  The wordings you use are relatively easy for me to understand, yet can also express deep thoughts. Your poems made me realise I underestimated the racism and learnt about black history.

After reading most of your poems, I found some similarities in most of the poems. It’s talking about chasing dream in early 1900s  and suffering from racism. As a black person it’s is tough back then, the poems let you express how you feel about the society. I can feel it through some of the poems that you wrote.

“And then the wall rose,

rose slowly,


Between me and my dream.” – (As I Grew Older, II. 7-10)

The wall rose, you were referring to racism, blocking you to fulfil your dream. It’s a boundary that grows slowly and slowly until it becomes a wall that you can’t break through.

“My hands!

My dark hands!

Break through the wall!

Find my dream!

Help me to shatter this darkness,

To smash this night,

To break this shadow” – (As I Grew Older, II. 24-30)

These sentences sticks out in this poem, the tone sounds different. Again, you want freedom and justice. I can feel that you are passionate for declaring what is right and what is wrong. I feel like you want whoever is suffering from racism feel relatable when reading this poem, to resonate with the readers.

After reading your poem, I learn to sympathise people who are suffering from racism. Your words express pain, discomfort, and fear. Now it’s 2021, and racial discrimination still exists. I hope people can face this problem squarely. Not only black people, but many races also face the same problem. 


Lydia Lam

Letter to Langston Hughes:

Dear Mr. Hughes,

Upon reading a few poems of yours, an obvious thing I noticed was many of the lyrics were about African Americans, a dream of freedom, and black lives. During a discussion with my classmates, I understood many authors wish to write about other genres but have the need to write about world events during tough times like wars, and I wanted to know if this was a situation you went through as well?

One of my most enjoyed poetry was “The Negro Mother,” the poem was easy to understand and explained in detail; it had a clear indication of imagery and talked about carrying on the legacy of achieving freedom. “All you dark children in the world out there, / Remember my pain, my sweat, my despair. / Remember my years heavy with sorrow– / And make of those years a torch for tomorrow.” (35-38). If I ever fought for freedom, I would want everyone to remember my sacrifice and carry on the legacy of achieving the justice required, and always protect those who cannot defend themselves. Another factor I thought was influential in the poem was the belief in God. “But God put a song and prayer in my mouth, / God put a dream like steel in my soul.” (18-19). My question to you is, did everyone believe in God? and what happened if someone were an atheist?

“Life Is Fine” is one of the poems I enjoyed as it was a change from presenting the idea of the suffering of African Americans to conveying a thought about how love influences us to do stupid things. “I tried to think but couldn’t, / So I jumped in and sank.” (1. 3-4). “I though about my baby / And thought I would jump down.” (4. 3-4). The poem conveyed a profound message about the struggles gone through by all of humanity; depression. It is an excellent example of how many people view suicide as a permanent resolution of their problems than actually fighting through them.

In the end, I would like to appreciate the diverse range of poems you have written. They express the fight for freedom and justice, the injustice humanity suffers, and great strength and resilience. I wonder which poem you are proud of the most.

Divya Rajpal.

Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr. Hughes,

In my English class, we have been reading and analyzing your poetry. I find it fascinating to learn about, as it also inspires me to learn more about the Civil Rights era. I want to become more informed on these important issues and hope to do my best to support/help others.

One poem in particular I was drawn too, is “The South”. The language is strong and seductive, creating this image. With the help of personification, we can imagine these two women, and see how they act. It carries this dark imagery that I find powerful and bold.

The Sky, the sun, the stars,

The magnolia-scented South.

Beautiful, like a women,

Seductive as a dark-eyed whore,

Passionate, cruel,

Honey-lipped, syphilitic—

That is the South.

This is the South to the speaker, this beautiful but dangerous woman who he loves but cannot have. Unlike the the North, who is represented as “cold-faced” but is kinder. This poem can also represent the similars between love and hate, both passionate and powerful emotions to have towards someone. You can love and hate someone at the same time, this is what the speaker is feeling towards to South. For the North he carries no emotion, just apathy.

So now I seek the North—

For she, they say,

Is a kinder mistress,

And in her house my children

May escape the spell of the South.

The speaker must go to the North because he has too, otherwise he’ll suffer the South’s cruelty.

I look up to your courage to represent your community. You left a big impact globally, and I want to thank you. For sharing your experience, and giving a voice to the people who did not feel they could. And for helping me understand the history and discrimination that our systems are built on.

Fond regards,


A Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr Hughes,
Over the past few days, I have had the pleasure to read some of your poems, some of which have impacted me in different ways. The way you allow your words to flow with such strength is so refreshing. The importance of showing the strength black people have as well as what they had to endure is absolutely astounding.
In your poem “I, Too” you wrote the following:
I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

As someone who was adopted legally in the united states, but comes from India, I have dealt with the struggle throughout my life of being questioned as an American on the basis of my origin as well as my patriotism.

I grew up as a foreigner in Mexico, constantly asked questions like “Are you in favour of what Americans say about ‘your people’ whether that being about Mexicans or Indians. I struggled with being accepted as ‘one of their own’.
Throughout my childhood, I went through struggles of being a coloured student in a mostly white school, being questioned about my being good enough to study in said institutions. I would like to thank you for opening up about your experiences as a black man in a country which in times felt as though it was not yours to be in.

Letter to Langston Hughes

Jack Bradshaw

1939 Sooke Rd, Victoria,

BC V9B 1W2

January 11th 2021

Langston Hughes

Dear Langston Hughes,

I really enjoy your poetry and I think that it is filled with plenty imagery and emotion. I feel as though these poems were my favorite, Ballad of the Landlord and Life Is Fine.

With ballad of the landlord I could feel his emotion and just his overall anger/annoyance getting stronger throughout the poem with certain sentences and phrases.

“What? You gonna get eviction orders? 

You gonna cut off my heat? 

You gonna take my furniture and 

Throw in in the street?” 

With Life is Fine I could see more of a rollercoaster of multiple strong emotions like sadness, depression, and clarity in a way.

“I came up one and hollered! 

I came up twice and cried! 

If that water hadn’t a-been so cold 

I might’ve sunk and died.” 


“I stood there and I hollered! 

I stood there and I cried! 

If it hadn’t a-been so high 

I might’ve jumped and died.” 


“So since I’m still here livin’, 

I guess I will live on. 

I could’ve died for love– 

But for livin’ I was born”

My questions for these poems would be: Are these experiences based on your on experiences? If not then, How do you get these experiences? Is there a lot of draft poems? What is your process in making these poems? Is it a more creative process that comes naturally or is it like sitting down and making poems for a couple hours?

All in all I enjoyed these poems and to me they gave me a very open point of view of the injustice and racism people of color would receive during the 20th century.

Thanks for looking,





Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Langston Hughes

throughout reading some pieces of your work, I have enjoyed learning about your style of writing and the creative and impactful ways you link your work with other references. Compared to other poems your vocabulary that you use in your poems is mostly very simple and easy to understand, but yet you are still able to convey points with deep context behind them, the fact that you can do this to me is impressive compared to other poets who use vocabulary from space.

The poems that we have read convey passion through your writing about racism and justice. All the poems I found relate to chasing the dream of having freedom throughout the early 19 hundred’s as a black person. Although I did not experience the south or racism you do an amazing job of painting a picture for the reader when reading your poems.

One of the poems that stuck out to me that made me think was Dream Boogie, this poem shows how slavery was and how black people had no choice but to pretend to be happy or they would be in trouble as if they were dogs on a leash  


Listen to it closely:

aint you heard

something underneath

like a–

What did I say?


I’m happy!

Take it away !

in-class we came to the conclusion that this represents a slave talking about something that may be a complaint. he then decides to act as though he did not say anything to avoid trouble. This shows the amount of power the white people had over the blacks, equality was far from existent and it’s hard to think about. Writing about this must have been hard having the feeling as though equality with people of color would never happen. Did you ever think that there would be? I wonder if you would be happy with how far society has gotten with equality or disappointed?

your poems mostly all have the similarity of justice and chasing the dream of equality and it is well conveyed and is impactful to read. thankyou for your writing and showing what the world should look like one day, hopefully without racism of people of a different colour.





Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr. Hughes,

After reading some of your poems within class I wanted to tell you that I love how your poems are composed. Unlike other poems that I have read all of your poems are consistently simple. Your use of diction is easy to understand which helps make the meaning behind your poems easier to comprehend.

You have surrounded the subject matter of your poems around freedom and justice, and although they are simple they are filled with your passion for stating what is right and what is wrong within this world.  Even though your poems do not include many end rhymes which in ways better connects the poem, I feel that you did the right thing by mostly avoiding adding end rhymes because the way you present your different poems is more, in my opinion, persuasive without end rhymes. Often poets use end rhymes to adhere to the musical qualities poets have used in the past, to allow the reader to read the poem as it is meant to be heard. By avoiding this I feel it made your poems quite different from other poems. Within your poem “As I Grew Older” you wrote the following:

“My hands!

My dark hands!

Break through the wall!

Find my dream!

Help me to shatter this darkness,

To smash this light, To break this shadow–” (ll. 24-30)

The class had concluded that this poem was about racism, dreams, and optimism.  If this is true, what inspired you to make this poem about racism, dreams, and optimism? Other than this I love the way you used only vague imagery and not imagery that was extensive towards our view of the poem. The idea of optimism came up within this poem, especially in the last stanza:

“Into a thousand light of sun, 

Into a thousand whirling dreams

Of sun!” (ll. 31-33)

The speaker in the poem recites a dream he once had, and it seems you made the speaker express great optimism towards that dream. Or at least you had made me feel optimistic for the speaker and his dream. It seems you at times like using the idea of optimism within your poems since you had also showcased optimism within: “I, Too.” Within the last stanza, you wrote: “I, too, am America.” (l. 18) I feel this shows optimism within the speaker. The speaker is stating that he/or she is America itself and that it is something to feel proud of.

Your poems have changed the way I view poetry. I have learned that poems can vary in many different ways, they do not need to follow the norms of other poets from the past, and that in poetry you can express what you simplistically think about life.


Armaan Singh Tumber


Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr. Hughes,

In 2013, the Black Lives Matter movement began. It was founded by three black women, in response to a recent murder of Trayvon Martin, an African American teenager, in which the murderer was found not guilty. In 2013, I didn’t know of this mouvement, nor the injustice black people faced on a daily basis due to the racism that encompasses the world. I was nine years-old, and I lived oblivious to this, because I could. I never had to be told as a child what to do if I was stopped by a police officer, I never had to be told that people would treat me unjustly due to my race. I was raised in a household where I was taught about racism and how wrong it is. However, I also grew up in a largely white neighborhood, with white privilege; thus, I wasn’t exposed to how severe it was for many.

Even through empathy, I will never truly comprehend how bad it can be for black people. Now, in 2021, I regularly follow the Black Lives Matter movement. However, no form of education comes anywhere near real-life experiences. I still live with white privilege. I have never been in a position of fear due to my race, and I wish you could have said the same. When I read your poetry, anger envelops me. Indignation towards the injustice you had to face. Rage at the racism and oppression that is still pervasive. Resentment towards all white people, past and present, that have suppressed others due to something as beautifully diverse as race. Identity isn’t something anyone should be harmed for; and yet, people who look like me have vehemently forced others into this position, to give themselves a feeling of superiority.

In, “As I Grew Older” and “I, Too,” you speak of the “dream” that many black people have ached for throughout their lives,

My hands!

My dark hands!

Break through the wall!

Find my dream!

Help me to shatter this darkness,

To smash this night,

To break this shadow

Into a thousand lights of sun,

Into a thousand whirling dreams

Of sun! (As I Grew Older, ll. 24-32)

As your life progressed, did your idea of this dream change? If you were alive now, would you feel as if you have achieved this dream, or are still fighting for it? Racism may have improved since your time; however, better doesn’t automatically equate to good.

In a time where hate feels indomitable, your poetry is a reminder of what people have overcome. Although the content in “Negro” may provoke sadness or anger due to the injustice demonstrated within it, it has strong tones of resilience and pride for everything black people have overcome. We see a range of suffering, from,

I’ve been a worker:

Under my hands the pyramids arose

I made mortar for the Woolworth Building. (Negro, ll. 7-9)


I’ve been a victim:

The Belgians cut off my hands in the Congo.

They lynch me still in Mississippi. (Negro, ll. 14-16)

But despite the centuries of pain and injustice conveyed through this, you still manage to make it a poem raising existential questions regarding identity. Who are we?, one may ask, to which this poem responds,

“I am a Negro:

Black as the night is black,

Black like the depths of my Africa. (Negro, ll. 1-3)

This feeling of identity has an impenetrable strength to it. I can imagine the bond you have created between people who have similar trauma engraved within their identities.  Not only does it show a  progression of black history, it shows hope; hope for the futureーfor the aforementioned “dream”.

In your past society and our present one, harmful stereotypes about black people have been propagated. In, “Deferred,” you broke the detrimental idea that black people were all the same, by presenting individuality through different speakers,

All I want is

one more bottle of gin.

All I want is to see my furniture paid for. (Deferred, ll. 29-31)

Then, in, “Dream Boogie,” you portray the false facades of happiness black workers were forced into by their white employers,


I’m happy!

Take it away! (Dream Boogie, ll. 15-17)

In these debunkings, we receive a taste of previous stereotypes, allowing us to reflect on the progression of our society. Did you ever suspect your poetry would be seen by people who weren’t even aware of the stereotypes that were so prevalent for you?

Throughout your diverse collection of poetry, we experience an outpouring of pain, hope, resilience, and strength. We observe a contrast between the beautifully seductive language used in “Harlem Sweeties”, the bluesy humour in “Life Is Fine”, and the powerful, dreamlike imagery in “As I Grew Older”. I wonder if you would be pleased with the impact your poetry has had on people globally, or satisfied with the manner in which we are studying it.

Thank you, deeply, for allowing us to live within your work.

With high appreciation,

Amy Norris

Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr. Hughes,

You wrote As I Grew Older when you were only about 20 years old. There is almost a sacredness about it. “Bright like a sun—/ My dream.” (ll.5,6) There are no other pronouns other than “I,” so I could only assume that you are the speaker. Your dreams and your hopes, expressed through vague imagery, is unpolished yet impactful.

Help me to shatter this darkness,

To smash this night, 

To break this shadow

Into a thousand lights of sun, 

Into a thousand whirling dreams 

Of sun! (ll.28-33)

You expressed the contrast between your dreams and the bitter reality by referencing light and darkness. Words such as “shatter,” “smash” and “break” gives such momentum as we picture a strong force penetrating the dark barriers to let light shine through.

When you wrote The South, along with The Weary BluesRuby Brown, and Life Is Fine, your poems have commonly expressed resentment of the present reality. You also seemed to have developed sarcastic humor that reflects the hardships of life, perhaps due to the Blues’ influence. “Life is fine! / Fine as wine! /Life is fine!” (Life is fine, ll.31,32) Life was never fine. I think you have seen and experienced quite a lot more since As I Grew Older, as your poems also tell stories.

Since 1951, your poems have begun to mention dreams again. And not just that, it gives me the feeling that you are combining dreams and reality.

In Montage of a Dream Deferred, you began playing with space and time by arranging short clips of several distinct speakers telling their dreams. Even if it’s something out of the blue like learning French or taking up Bach, or even if all the person wants is one more bottle of gin; through different times and space, these voices all connect.

Then in Dream Boogie, you showed us that it isn’t just the individual dreams that are deferred; collectively, as a whole, the dream of freedom and equality of African Americas are deferred. “Ain’t you heard/ The boogie-woogie rumble/ Of a dream deferred?” (ll.2-4) The low rumblings are not words; it is through the language of music.

“Listen closely: 

You’ll hear their feet 

Beating out and beating out a—


You think It’s a happy beat?” (ll.5-7)

You have the power to express this repressed anger through speech and rhythms. And I can only conclude that this is due to its musical qualities, “Hey, pop! /Re-bop! /Mop! / Y-e-a-h!” (ll.18-21) Such a short stanza tells so much. It makes us listen to it, other than to read it.

As time progresses you experimented with different forms and techniques in your poems. you played with not just only imagery but also the other senses such as taste (Harlem Sweeties) and hearing (the Blues, Jazz Ringo, etc.). You experienced life and met other people, and got to know their dreams, not just your own. But it is the same dream. Looking back to As I Grew Older, you stated at the very first line:

It was a long time ago.

I have almost forgotten my dream. (ll.1,2) 

Yet this is a dream you have dedicated to during your entire life. It isn’t just “your dream,” it is a dream of freedom, of everyone’s freedom. You mentioned that the barrier, the “wall” almost cast your dream away, “Rose until it touched the sky—/ The wall.” (ll. 15,16) No matter how much your poems change in structure, what musical form you take on, or what stories you tell, you always attack this Wall that has been ever-present but needs to be broken down. You have always had the same dream.


Cecilia Chen


WDolan_Letter_To Langston_Hughes

Langston Hughes

January 11 2021

William Dolan


Brookes Westshore

1939 Sooke Rd, Victoria, BC V9B 1W2

Colwood, British Columbia


Dear Mr. Langston Hughes,

I am writing this letter to tell you how much I enjoy your poetry. I especially found  “Ruby Brown” and “Negro” to be interesting and thought provoking.

My questions for you would be; How do you start your poems and what influences your ideas? What poet inspires you the most. What is your idea of blues poems? What blues structure do you prefer? What emotions do you think they should create? What is your favorite form of poem? I noticed you use multiple structures, topics, and moods throughout your works.

I found it easy to experience the mood you may have been feeling when you wrote “Ruby Brown”.  The emotion I encountered was joy and sadness.

“She was young and beautiful
And golden like the sunshine
That warmed her body.
And because she was colored
Mayville had no place to offer her,
Nor fuel for the clean flame of joy
That tried to burn within her soul

However with “Negro”, I felt emotions that included sadness, frustration and empathy. In the poem, you talk about black people’s contributions from the continent of Africa, to the country of America. Unless you take history, readers may not know what you mean by:

“The Belgians cut off my hands in the Congo.
They lynch me still in Mississippi.”

Did you initially question whether the vast majority of people would know what this means? What mood were you experiencing while writing this poem, and how do you view the world? Should more art like your poetry be included to promote different perspectives to make a better society?

I enjoyed your works and their creative content. They have benefitted my education about the arts and my heritage.

Thanks, and best wishes,

William Dolan